“The future has never been more like the present than it is now.”
William Gibson hooked my attention with the famous first line of his novel, Neuromancer, “The sky above the port was the color of a television, tuned to a dead channel.” And it’s been a great ride ever since.
I highly recommend his newest book, Pattern Recognition, which touches on many things that I find most interesting these days, including the subject of pattern recognition. In a way, we all see the patterns we want to see, but it struck me that the book touched on the blogging phenomenon in a fundamental way, without ever mentioning them. There is a current dance between art and expression and commerce and marketing that plays out in the book as well on the streets of the Internet these days.
The book is written in Gibson’s superb and challenging style, one in which you must resist the urge to fight in order to be rewarded by the flow of it. There are classic Gibsonian characters and observations on our world – it’s fascinating that the main character has a physical allergy/phobia to trademarks, yet works as a finder/arbiter of what is cool.
While Neuromancer seemingly predicted the nearly two decades that followed it, Pattern Recognition is set right in the present – the post 9/11 present. Pattern Recognition is about 9/11 without explicitly being about 9/11 in much the same way as is Bruce Springsteen’s The Rising, and a strong common thread of “missing” runs through both. Both Gibson and Springsteen, to me, have presented the most artistically rewarding responses to 9/11, both deserving multiple re-readings and re-listenings.